Poll highlights deep voter apathy ahead of Iran election
The results of the latest poll ahead of the key presidential election in Iran indicate growing apathy among the Iranian public towards the polls.
The survey was conducted by Iranian Student Survey Agency (ISPA), which is affiliated with the country’s Ministry of Science, Research and Technology. Covering over 1,500 respondents, the survey estimated the final turnout at around 38%.
ISPA results also showed that only 34% of eligible voters go “absolutely” to the polls. the further suggested survey that the current campaign has not only failed to attract new voters, it has even pushed the election 5% further away compared to another poll in May.
The numbers also marked a sharp and unprecedented drop from any previous presidential election in Iran. the last three votes experienced participation rates between 72% and 85%.
Iran is set to hold elections on June 18 at a time of public disillusionment with the country’s economy, which has been accompanied by built-up fury over human rights violations and a crackdown on civil liberties. Despite such a background, the ruling establishment in Iran has decided to make the race a one-sided competition between candidates handpicked by its outright Guardian Council.
The candidate control body, which depends only on the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has dismissed several centrist candidates despite their ten-year role at the very heart of the Islamic Republic’s decision-making process.
The selection process also spurred boycott campaigns already underway, fueling speculation that the ruling establishment would go the extra mile to secure a easy landslide for the ultraconservative clergyman and judicial leader Ebrahim Raisi, a close ally of the Supreme Leader.
Of the eight finalized candidates, six are aligned with hard and powerful political factions. The other two would have been chosen from obscure figures of the moderate camp and have not even obtained official endorsement from their own factions.
On Tuesday, the candidates attended their second live televised debate to address a wide range of topics from the country’s struggling economy and the fragile nuclear deal to widespread corruption and women’s rights. Yet, as we saw in the first debate, the candidates failed to come up with working solutions for the country’s grievances. Instead, they used the stage to launch fierce attacks and exchange rants.
After both moderate candidates sharply criticized Raisi in first debate, they received stern warning from Ayatollah Mohamed Ali Movahedi Kermani. Without naming them, the ultra-conservative cleric said they could still simply be taken out of the race if they cross the red lines.
ISPA survey also dug if the first debate changed the calculations before the vote. He said the debate failed to encourage undecided voters. The survey further found that 70% of Iranians over the age of 18 had not even watched the TV debate despite extensive coverage by a multitude of Iranian TV and radio stations.